Fairbanks to IL with shoulder inflammation

July 29th, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays’ injury-riddled bullpen took another hit Thursday, when the club placed high-leverage reliever on the 10-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation.

Fairbanks exited the Rays’ 3-1 loss against the Yankees on Wednesday night in the 10th inning after informing pitching coach Kyle Snyder that his shoulder didn’t feel right. Fairbanks said he felt soreness throughout his right shoulder, especially after throwing a slider to Aaron Judge, and recognized it wouldn’t be wise to continue pitching.

Manager Kevin Cash reported some good news after the Rays’ 14-0 rout of the Yankees on Thursday afternoon, saying Fairbanks’ MRI “showed up pretty clean,” not displaying anything similar to the rotator cuff strain that sidelined the right-hander for 25 games earlier this season.

“We’re excited about that,” Cash said. “I just saw [Fairbanks] in the clubhouse. I said, ‘Good news?’ He said, ‘Yeah, really good news.’”

That confirmed what Fairbanks felt Thursday morning -- that this injury wouldn’t be as serious as the last one despite being “kind of where I felt it early on in the year.”

“I'm hopeful that it's not anything as bad as it was early on, but any time you're kind of dealing with a recurring thing from early on in the year -- even if it kind of went away for a while, when you're dealing with that for a second time, it leaves some room for some doubt just trying to figure out what it is,” Fairbanks said Thursday morning.

The Rays recalled right-hander Chris Mazza from Triple-A Durham to take Fairbanks’ spot in the bullpen. Tampa Bay now has 14 players on the injured list, all pitchers, tying a club record set on July 25.

The Rays’ remarkable depth has allowed them to weather this season’s storm of injuries, but the way they’ve piled up lately, it’s no wonder they are on the lookout for bullpen help heading into Friday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported Thursday morning.

The Rays could put together a formidable pitching staff using only players currently on the shelf: Nick Anderson, Chris Archer, Jalen Beeks, Yonny Chirinos, Oliver Drake, Fairbanks, J.P. Feyereisen, Tyler Glasnow, Tommy Hunter, Collin McHugh, Colin Poche, Cody Reed, Chaz Roe and Ryan Thompson.

They’ve been dealing with health woes all year, with some long-term injuries dating back to last season, but their bullpen has been hit especially hard lately.

Tampa Bay has been without Thompson (shoulder inflammation) since June 28, although he’s progressed to playing catch in his rehabilitation. Anderson is on his way back from an elbow injury that’s sidelined him all season, but he still needs to build up his endurance on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham.

Feyereisen went on the 10-day IL on July 21 due to right shoulder discomfort. McHugh followed Feyereisen to the IL last Sunday due to right arm fatigue. And now Fairbanks has joined them on the 10-day IL, leaving Diego Castillo and All-Star Andrew Kittredge as the club’s top two high-leverage options.

Fairbanks admitted it was frustrating to go on the IL again, especially since his unexpected exit forced Kittredge into action in the final inning of Wednesday’s game.

“I don't like putting Kitt in that spot. I don't like having to come out in that situation,” Fairbanks said. “I don't like being on the shelf. Yeah, being hurt is very frustrating. I've lost a lot of time to it already, and it's not fun at all.”